Cat Portraiture

AMINAH BEE at 1-Month, in a pocket by Nawfal Johnson

AMINAH BEE at 1-Month, in a pocket by Nawfal Johnson

Title: “AMINAH BEE at 1-Month.”
Subject: Cat Portraiture.
Creation Year: 2004.
Copyright: © 2004 Nawfal Johnson Photography ~ All Rights Reserved.
This was published in a book titled: The World’s Cutest Animals (something like that – it’s been awhile: ) Aminah Bee is now the matriarch of our cat “sanctuary” – zoo – mad-house of total craziness! LMAO! Insanity is inhereted from your Cats! It’s true!

The Socrates Series The Iritis Collection by Nawfal Johnson

THE IRITIS COLLECTION (Sept – Nov  2013)
SERIES Title: SOCRATES.
SERIES NUMBER: #2.
PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES: Four.

The IRITIS COLLECTION is a group of photographic series, designed during this difficult and painfully long period dealing with Chronic Iritis, and now, a second eye disease called PDS (Pigment Dispersion Syndrome).  The PDS in my right eye makes it almost impossible to see anything but blurry objects with that eye.  As far as I have researched, there is NO cure for PDS.

I have found that doing Photography now is more difficult because I have always been a ‘perfectionist’ when it comes to composing and editing my photographs.  Well, I have discovered even more clearly (no pun intended), that there is no such thing as “Perfection” – it is a figment of delusional thinking.  Nevertheless, what I can do, is to execute the design of my photographs to the best of my ability.  Maybe that means spending more time with my subjects.  Maybe that means, taking more breaks during a photographic session.  Or, maybe that means not being so hard on myself when editing my photographs:  I always want to produce the best results possible, and that is still the goal.  The main difference now is that I will depend more on my left eye (which was always my BAD Eye – GREAT!), and maybe the best I can do now will depend more on the technology within the camera – especially in terms of accurate focus.

Thanks for visiting my new post.

The SOCRATES Series:

TITLE:  SOCRATES, No.1. COLLECTION:  THE IRITIS COLLECTION. SERIES:  SOCRATES. SERIES NUMBER:  2. PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES:  FOUR. Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: SOCRATES, No.1.
COLLECTION: THE IRITIS COLLECTION.
SERIES: SOCRATES.
SERIES NUMBER: 2.
PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES: FOUR.
Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

TITLE:  SOCRATES, No.2. COLLECTION:  THE IRITIS COLLECTION. SERIES:  SOCRATES. SERIES NUMBER:  2. PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES:  FOUR. Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: SOCRATES, No.2.
COLLECTION: THE IRITIS COLLECTION.
SERIES: SOCRATES.
SERIES NUMBER: 2.
PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES: FOUR.
Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

A Note about photo No.2:  You can obviously see why cats are the most notoriously difficult subjects to photograph: By Image No.2, Socrates was already tired and becoming difficult.  The Photographer is ALWAYS at the mercy of their kitty-subjects who rarely want to listen to you – Everything is on their terms…so be ready.

TITLE:  SOCRATES, No.3. COLLECTION:  THE IRITIS COLLECTION. SERIES:  SOCRATES. SERIES NUMBER:  2. PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES:  FOUR. Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: SOCRATES, No.3.
COLLECTION: THE IRITIS COLLECTION.
SERIES: SOCRATES.
SERIES NUMBER: 2.
PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES: FOUR.
Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

TITLE:  SOCRATES, No.4. COLLECTION:  THE IRITIS COLLECTION. SERIES:  SOCRATES. SERIES NUMBER:  2. PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES:  FOUR. Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: SOCRATES, No.4.
COLLECTION: THE IRITIS COLLECTION.
SERIES: SOCRATES.
SERIES NUMBER: 2.
PHOTOGRAPHS IN SERIES: FOUR.
Copyright 2013 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.

Maysa’, Edit B Cat Portraiture

Maysa’, Edit B, originally uploaded by Nawfal Nur.

This photograph proves that you can use a Canon Speedlite very effectively with a Nikon DSLR! Yes, you can. Neither the camera nor the flash melted, blewup, or got destroyed. A Canon Speedlite 420EX was used with a Nikon D70S. I bounced the flash off the ceiling to fill the room with light.

Jamilah Bee Eyes, v1, Edit B

Type of Photography: Cat Portraiture.
Cat Model: Jamilah Bee.
Cat Age: 12-Years this Year.
Date Taken: 2 Aug 09.

Photo Tip: Flash placement should be slightly off center to avoid any ‘deer-in-headlights’ type of glare – the equivalent of the Human Red-Eye issue. It also helps if the ‘model’ is not staring directly at the camera.

Have fun!

MAYSA’ ,October 01, 2008,#1a

Maysa’
Cat Portraiture.

"MAYSA" by Nawfal Nur

"MAYSA" by Nawfal Nur

Photographed by Nawfal Nur

Formal Cat Portraiture: It is a skill just as much so as human portraiture. Maybe not as glamorous, of course, but perhaps more difficult. With humans, at least you can reason with the unruly model who had to get up too early for a photo shoot and she “just can’t do a damn thing with her hair!” Right. These types of issues can be smoothed out when reasoning with another human being.

Animals, well…they are a totally different ball of bee’s wax!

There is no reasoning with animals: They either do what you need them to do; OR, in most cases, they do whatever they damned well please!

And of course, this can be fun the first 50 times you request that they stand properly on the “mark” so you can take a good shot. On number 51, a patient Photographer begins to wish he had listened to his mother and become a weapons demolition expert, because that job would have been less stressful.

Meanwhile, back in the human studio, the photographer is going: “Oh yeah, Baby, that’s it! Right, just a little turn to your left, BEAUTIFUL! Awesome! You are looking HOT! Alright, we killed it!”

And, back at the animal photography studio, the Animal Portraitist is going: “Maysa’….Maysa’….MAYSA’ are you listening to me? Sit here…no…NO….NOOOOOOO, HERE….Ah, good! No….MAYSAAAAAA’, Get up here on the mark, no, that’s not the mark, that is some old cat food that you dropped two days ago, leave that alone, you stay here, MAYSA’! Are you going to cooperate?”

30-minutes later…

Maysa’! No…Please, just stay there. Ah, yes!!!!! OK, READY…….NOOOOOOOOO, DON’T JUMP OFF THAT!!!!!

45-minutes later…

After several cat food bribes, a lot of patience, 127 “Maysa’s”, 153 “Don’ts”, and 182 “No’s”, we accomplished a few good cat portraits.

Did I say that Animal Portraiture was a little tough, hahahahahahahaha!

Tip #1: “Use the Force!”
Tip #2: Prepare a mind calming mantra before you begin the photo session, and repeat it throughout the session.
Tip #3: Use Bribes with all subjects!
Tip #4: If you get too impatient, angry, upset, discombobulated, irate, silly-brained, or go stark raving loony-toons. then use the ‘ol standby, a tranquilizer gun…ON YOURSELF! It could be a lot of fun, it will make you feel all good all under, and your kitty subjects might just cooperate better if you are not so uptight!

There you have it! Another fine lesson in Cat Portraiture!

Good Luck! Stay Calm! And everyone will be happy.

Maysa’, 7-wks Old, 28Aug08

This is Maysa’ [Sounds like Mice-Ah].

She is about 7-weeks old. She walked into my life about two weeks ago. I feel she wandered into our yard for two reasons: 1) Because of a loss I had recently; and 2) To be a slightly older sister to my youngest kitten, Averroes, who I’ve been raising since he was 2-Days Old…He will be 5-Weeks old tomorrow.

She was ready for a Kitten Portrait. He, unfortunately, is very NOT ready for sitting still for a portrait (‘sitting still’ is the key here).

The kittens have not allowed me to sleep much over the last 5-weeks because they eat about every 3 (or thereabouts) hours. I’m usually up by 2am and awake until 7am, and do my work around a really strange schedule.

Maybe when they are ready for dry cat food, I can have a normal sleep schedule – I HOPE!!!

I added a Ghostbones Texture for a little added illustrative look. Thanks Ghostbones.

I’m going to add some photograph details. I think that a lot of photographers believe there is some proprietary knowledge they can NOT share about their photo techniques and tricks, and this is fine. I also have a few tricks up my sleeve that I don’t like to share because they are techniques that I developed over a long time, and for no other reason than the competitive nature of photography, especially, nowadays, I’d keep the trick(s) to myself.

However, there are times that it is very useful to share knowledge with others. It gives me satisfaction to teach others about photography, as I also feel a great amount of gratitude when someone else teaches me something about photography.

There is also a certain amount of responsibility a person has to share knowledge with others, and that is partially what my blog, “Behind the Lens”, is all about.

If it helps clarify what was done to produce a photo, or guides someone to work out their own style or techniques, by answering some questions about what I did, then I’m happy with that.

With that said, here are some Photograph Details:

Camera: Canon Powershot A620
Lighting: One remotely fired METZ 32 Z-2, SET ON “A” [at the f/1.4 setting], and opened to 28mm wide. This was fired through a translucent [white], hard plastic cutting board. This worked well as a diffuser to soften the METZ flash. You change the intensity of the light by moving the flash closer or further away from the diffuser material.
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec.
Aperture: f/4.1

Kittens are very, VERY, very active. To get a decent shot, it is good to attempt a portrait AFTER they have eaten and are satisfied. Then, they tend to try cleaning themselves, or are a bit lethargic and not wiggling around as much.

However, that does not work all the time!.

Sometimes, you just have to be persistent with a kitten by sitting them on the mark, by letting go really quickly, and then hopefully moving your hand out of the frame when you trip the shutter button.

This photograph took about 20-attempts because she was on super-speedy mode and wanted to escape faster than I could coordinate things. Nevertheless, I managed to get a couple good shots frozen “in the can” before Maysa’ couldn’t take it any more! Or, maybe it was me who couldn’t take it any more, LOLOL!

Good Luck with your SPEEDY kittens!

Photographed by Nawfal Nur

Getting Dust-Free

Gold Case with Dust

BEFORE SHOT: Gold Case before editing the dust & fluff.

Here is the “dust-free” image (below). Six hours later, of cloning and other tools used, to get rid of the dust and fluff from this product. There are a few more things I would change to get rid of manufacturer defects and even smaller dust spots, but I’ve had enough! Even a “perfectionist” has their limits.

I forgot to mention, that yes, I always use micro-fiber cloth and air blower to get rid of AS MUCH DUST AS POSSIBLE, but dust is a rather evil creation and has the tendency of coming back over and over and over again. Sometimes, you just have no choice than to shoot the image and clean up with some software solution, after the fact.

Estee Lauder Gold Cosmetics Case as

AFTER SHOT: GOLD CASE after editing dust and fluff.

Homemade \

LIGHTING: A single flash setup. METZ 32Z-2 Flash with homemade “Tupperware” diffuser coated with metallic black and silver paint. I also used a single sheet of A4 white paper (80gms weight thickness) to flag-diffuse light in areas where it was blowing out the highlights. I attempt to keep lighting as ‘simple’ as possible, when possible.

Was there any particular reason to paint the diffuser with black and silver metallic paint? No, not really, it is all experimental for sure. The inside of the device is silver metallic and the outside, sides are black metallic.

The goal was to make a translucent light modifier to use with this METZ flash, to get a wider spread at closer distance that gives off a good, softer, dispersed light source. I cannot use the METZ “Winder” Mode with this (not enough power), but I can use the “A”perture settings, and still place the light within 12-inches from the subject. This flash modifier is good for Cat (Pet) Portraiture (see below).  You can see the squarish highlight in Jamilah’s eye – a very nice catch-light.

When it comes to small flashes I’d take METZ over any other type of flash, any day of the week, and TWICE on Sunday.  Someday, I may check out their bigger flash units and Wireless Triggers.  I find METZ to be  über-Dependable!

Jamilah Bee Portrait taken using Homemade Light Diffuser - Modifier.